webxr-trevor-flowers

In the final interview of this VR for Good series, I’m featuring the WebXR Device API and how this represents a new open standard that allows for the easy creation and distribution of immersive content.

I had a chance to sit down with one of the members of the Immersive Web Community Group Trevor Flowers to talk about his involvement in helping to shepherd the open standards process with the likes of Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple.

Flowers compared the shift from dynamic 2D web pages to either fully immersive world’s or a portal into a virtual world as being as big of not bigger than the shift from print layout to cross-platform, cross-device, cross-form factor, fully-reponsive and reactive design. It’s taken 20-30 years to evolve and formalize the design frameworks to move from static print to dynamic and context-dependent. Now to add in a lot of new display types, control types, and input types has a combinatorial explosion of design decisions that need to be made. Based upon the TODOMVP Rosetta Stone of implement different app frameworks, Flowers estimated that the existing design frameworks can help reduce the number of decisions to be made to be at around 200. But for an equivalent spatialized version of the app, it explodes out to around 3000 decisions. Flowers estimates that it will take another 20-30 years for the design patterns to normalize to he point where we start to get bored with the options.

Flowers also has a background in networking, and had some super insightful comments about how WebAssembly may help to catalyze edge-device protocols for rendering and delivering content on local mesh networks. It’s still very early days, but he expects that there will be a lot of compelling WebXr use cases for WebAssembly.

Finally, we covered some of Flowers’ projects with his art, design, prototype engineering, and product consultation company Transmutable where he’s creating a digital production studio in WebXR for independent content creators. We also bit about his “Wider Web” responsive design framework called PotassiumES, and some of the projects he wants to see to help ensure a lot more trust and privacy verification services for XR devices.

It’s certainly an exciting time for the open web, and there are so many new design problems that are being opened up by the spatial web that will require expertise beyond existing web development & design teams. Flowers says that future spatial web teams will likely have expertise from 3D modeling, environmental design, lighting, theater, architecture, industrial design, and beyond.

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